Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] what would you do?

From: Hilary Tuttle <>
Date: Sat Nov 12 21:57:00 2005

Dear Melissa,

I loved reading your post. You clearly "get it". I hear the yearning in
your voice for the SVS experience for your children and I wish that for
them (as well as for all children to experience) as well. But I gotta
say w/you as their Mom they'll be more than fine!

Thank you,
SVS parent Hilary

Melissa Bradford wrote:

> Dear Ann,
> What my family would give to be able to trade places with you and have
> the problem you are having!
> First, I do want to echo Hanna's point about privacy. I used to teach
> public school, where teachers and parents talked about children all
> the time with no regard to their privacy at all, and it was a real
> adjustment for me when I got involved in Sudbury schools to learn to
> respect my kids' or other students' privacy. I found that it just
> didn't even occur to me that I should ask my children or others before
> I talked or wrote about them! But over time I did learn to be better
> about it, although sometimes I still need to check myself. I
> completely understand your need for feedback about this issue, but
> given the fact that anyone can access this list, perhaps there is a
> less public way to ask your questions in the future. I hope this
> discussion has not proven to have negative repercussions for you or
> your son. I'm sure that was not your intention.
> Having said that, I'd like to address your question by sharing my own
> family's experience. My son and daughter have attended Sudbury
> schools in the past, but currently there is not one here for them to
> attend, so we are in an unschooling group. My daughter has interests
> similar to your son's. She likes manga and also loves comedy improv,
> so, in our unschooling group, we have started a manga/anime club, and
> we have also organized a homeschool improv class with a local
> children's theater. So why would we trade this for a Sudbury school?
> Because there are lots of ways to pursue your interests, but having
> the opportunity to pursue them in a Sudbury environment is so much
> more empowering than other options. (And much more enjoyable, as far
> as my kids are concerned.) Your son being in the situation you
> describe is exactly why a Sudbury setting is so wonderful. Children
> have the opportunity to determine just how important their goals and
> interests are, decide what it takes to accomplish those goals, and
> whether or not it is worth it. Are they important enough to approach
> those older kids you don't know and/or feel a little intimidated by?
> Are they important enough to take time away from the other fun
> activities you may be enjoying? Are they important enough to bring to
> School Meeting and make a motion and get your friends to support it?
> Finding the answers to these questions is a learning process that you
> don't really find anywhere else. The students also have access all
> day long to lots of other children and adults of all ages making the
> same determinations for themselves. That is such power and freedom!
> What an amazing environment for any child.
> When you are homeschooling, most everything must go through mom or
> dad. When you are in traditional schools, everything depends on the
> teachers. At a Sudbury school, everything depends on you, the
> student. You have the freedom to meet these challenges and determine
> for yourself how to address them. This is much, much harder, but the
> rewards are much greater. Sure, my daughter is enjoying the anime
> club and the improv class, but they are very dependent on me and the
> other parents in the group. We parents give the permission, we give
> the rides, we provide the space, we make the phone calls. My
> daughter would much rather be in a setting where she had the freedom
> and the power to create these things for herself, as well as to be
> with children who also have that power and freedom, so they can create
> things together.
> Your son has not been able to pursue his interests fully at school
> yet. That is OK! That is part of learning what it takes to make
> something happen. I think the most powerful thing you can do is to
> let him know that you trust him and you trust his inner voice, and
> that he will eventually find a way to make his passions come to life.
> There are definite reasons he hasn't done it yet, some he has shared
> with you and maybe even some he has not. As a mom of Sudbury
> students, I do admit that I personally found this very difficult. It
> was very hard not to get involved and try to help my kids solve their
> problems. It is so much easier to look at their situations and just
> show them how to accomplish the goals they have expressed to me. I've
> had to do a lot of sitting on my hands! But if I hadn't, I would have
> robbed them of the victory of accomplishing their goals on their own,
> and taken away their opportunity to build confidence in their own
> abilities. When I stopped myself from telling them how they should
> take steps toward their goals, I eventually saw that what they most
> wanted to hear from me was not how to accomplish their goals, but just
> that I believed in them and that I knew they could accomplish whatever
> they set out to do. My wanting to get involved was actually giving
> them a message that I didn't think they could solve it on their own,
> even though that was not my intention. Sometimes they ended up
> choosing to pursue their interests at home and not at school because
> there was so much other fun stuff going on at school, and I decided
> that was OK with me. Even though they could pursue their goals at
> school, there were other needs, not necessarily being
> articulated, that were being met at school, and somewhere inside them
> they were deciding that those needs were more important, and I trusted
> that voice in them.
> I remember how both my kids around age six started telling me they
> wanted to learn how to read. Whenever I sat down with them to help
> them, they were suddenly totally uninterested in it! They wanted to
> read, but didn't really want to do the work it would require. I felt
> that even though they were expressing this desire to read, something
> inside them was stopping them. I felt I should trust that inner
> voice, and encourage them to trust it, too. Turns out it was the
> right decision. Both of them, when they were 8 years old, just
> started reading. They couldn't read, and then, all of a sudden they
> could. Just think of all the agony and frustration they might have
> gone through if they had tried to force themselves, or if I had tried
> to "encourage" them, to read at six! Even though they wanted to read,
> their inner voices or instincts or whatever told them they weren't
> ready. When they were ready, it happened naturally, with
> little effort. I'm really glad I let them determine for themselves
> what they wanted to do instead of trying to get more involved in
> helping them pursue their stated goal. It was something they had to
> master themselves, and I just kept telling them they would be able to
> do it when they were ready, and they found out that it was true. Now
> they can apply that experience to other new things and know that they
> have the ability to master them, too, when they are ready.
> Another thing I realized from my kids' time in Sudbury schools is that
> I would only hear a partial picture of what was going on, which of
> course is perfectly normal. When they had their frustrations on their
> minds, they would share them with me, but they didn't always tell me
> about other factors involved. Sometimes they neglected to tell me all
> the great things they were spending their time on, because they were
> focused on what they didn't do. It wasn't on purpose or anything, but
> sometimes they didn't have the ability to articulate the whole
> picture, or maybe didn't even see it themselves, or maybe they were
> just focusing on the obstacles at the moment. I found that when I
> trusted them to work it out, and gave them the message that I had
> confidence in their ability to figure it out, they did, eventually,
> and were that much stronger for it.
> Now that we are unschooling, the situation is much more difficult for
> us. I find myself worrying that my children do not have as much
> opportunity to develop their self-reliance, independence, and
> confidence as they did when they were in a Sudbury school. I am doing
> my best to recreate that setting at home and in our unschool group,
> but it really is not the same, so I am hoping our unschool group will
> evolve over time to be more like a Sudbury school, especially when we
> find a space of our own. I just want to let you know that you are so
> lucky to be able to send your child to Sudbury Valley School, and I
> hope you and he are able to suck every wonderful juicy bit of joy
> out of that opportunity.
> So I hope my experience helps a bit. Good luck to you and your son.
> Melissa
> Illinois
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:*
> [] *On Behalf Of *Ann Ide
> *Sent:* Friday, November 11, 2005 7:37 AM
> *To:*
> *Subject:* Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] what would you do?
> Actually, he is not shy at all with his friends, and most people,
> for that matter ! Sometimes, he is even a little too outspoken!
> I bet any SVS staff reading this are going, "What?" This seems to
> be a very contextual thing happening. It just doesn't "fit" the
> textbook picture of the model, hence my inquiry. Out of all the
> years, and all the children at SVS, and other Sudbury schools, I
> doubt this is the only occurence of such a thing.
> So, do I get involved somehow ?
> Thanks,
> Ann
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Received on Sat Nov 12 2005 - 21:56:18 EST

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